APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) — As influenza season continues to sweep across Wisconsin, ThedaCare has announced it is temporarily restricting children under the age of 12 from visiting patients in all seven ThedaCare hospitals.
The restriction begins Monday, Jan. 6, and is intended to “prevent the spread of the flu and to protect the health of patients, families, team members and the communities we serve.”
This restriction does not apply to outpatient or clinic services. Officials say there is an exception to the restriction which allows siblings, who do not have cold or flu symptoms, to visit the OB unit.
“The flu is a serious, contagious respiratory illness that we are currently seeing across the United States,” says Dr. Jennifer Frank, Chief Medical Officer of the Clinically Integrated Network at ThedaCare. “The safety of patients, families and team members is our main priority at ThedaCare, which is why restrictions are now in place.”
The temporary restriction is in effect at hospitals in Appleton, Berlin, Neenah, New London, Shawano, Waupaca, and Wild Rose. Officials say it will be assessed on a regular basis as new information about the influenza season becomes available.
The Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services reported last week that Wisconsin has seen almost 460 hospitalizations and 11 deaths due to flu complications already this season.
The number of hospitalizations is three times higher than last year at this time.
ThedaCare continues to encourage the community to protect hospitalized patients from exposure by not visiting unless necessary. People should not visit if they have a cough, fever, diarrhea or vomiting. Visitors are highly encouraged to wear masks and frequently wash or sanitize hands while at the hospital.
“The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Frank. “Anyone over the age of six months should receive the vaccination. The flu can be a severe illness, especially for the very young, the very old, those with chronic health conditions and pregnant women. That’s because those groups run the highest risk of developing a complication from the illness.”
Patients who are not feeling well but want to be seen by a healthcare provider do have the option of an eVisit. For more information on eVisits, visit ThedaCare’s website.